Newcastle United finished third in the Premier League Asia Trophy after a 1-0 victory against West Ham United on Saturday.
The Magpies controlled the game from the first whistle, pinning the Hammers in their own half and should have taken the lead after Elias Sorensen missed an open goal from an Isaac Hayden cross.
It was Steve Bruce’s first taste of the action since taking charge of the North-East club, and they looked instantly more organised in a three-at-the-back formation which saw the Magpies control the midfield.
Bruce will no doubt have been delighted with the performance, which was drastically different from the one which saw his side thrashed by Wolves just a few days prior.
Nothing But Newcastle has put together three things learn from Saturday’s clash with West Ham:
SHELVEY MUST START
The England international was once again phenomenal in the heart of midfield alongside Hayden. The three-at-the-back formation allowed him to sit and anchor the middle of the park, a role that suited his passing range perfectly.
Shelvey had the freedom of the pitch at certain parts of the game and used it well enough to see him punish West Ham’s defence, picking out numerous long-range passes throughout.
The 27-year-old only made 10 starts under Rafael Benitez last season, and now that Bruce has taken charge, he will surely be given the opportunity to feature more often, and on that display, it is a must that the 58-year-old gives Shelvey freedom to play his own way.
STERRY MORE THAN CAPABLE
It was a slight surprise to see Sterry on the team sheet before the game on Saturday, but the 23-year-old proved he is more than worthy of filling in at right wing-back if needed next season.
The youngster played with a level of confidence around him, and looked solid in both attack and defence, keeping the influential Felipe Anderson relatively quiet throughout the game.
Newcastle’s first-choice right-back DeAndre Yedlin only managed two assists in 29 Premier League games last season, and should Sterry continue to produce the crosses he managed to deliver consistently against West Ham, including the one to set up Muto’s goal, he has every chance of proving his worth to Bruce.
MURPHY TO BE SECRET WEAPON
Jacob Murphy has endured a difficult start to his Newcastle career, to say the least. The 24-year-old joined from Norwich with great praise and expectation behind him, but failed to live up to the hype initially and was sent out on loan to West Brom last season.
The attack-minded winger made a cameo appearance at the end of the win over Manuel Pellegrini’s side and showed glimpses of what Newcastle fans would have expected from him. He squared up to Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell numerous times and beat them convincingly with his directness and sheer pace which allowed him to hit the byline and fire in crosses.
Benitez failed to get the best out of the winger during his spell at St James’ Park, and his loan spell in the Championship didn’t see him get any better – meaning many Premier League sides won’t be expecting much from Murphy come next season.
If Murphy can improve on his dreadful 65.4% pass completion rate [WhoScored] next season and start adding assists to his blistering runs, he could turn from a loan flop into a secret weapon under Bruce.